12-year-old ties for 1st in ESPN bracket challenge Sam Holtz, a sixth-grader from Hawthorn Woods, Ill., poses awith his near-perfect ESPN NCAA men's basketball bracket where he picked Duke to defeat Wisconsin in the finals (AP photos / Thinkstock)
12-year-old ties for 1st in ESPN bracket challenge
Lexile

A sixth-grade boy from suburban Chicago completed a near-perfect bracket predicting the NCAA men's basketball tournament, finishing in a tie for first in ESPN's massive annual contest.

Sam Holtz said ESPN officials told him that is he ineligible to claim the top prize a $20,000 gift card and a trip to the Maui Invitational basketball tournament because he's 12 years old. ESPN requires participants to be at least 18.

"I'm irritated," Holtz told the Daily Herald newspaper. "Yes, I'm still proud of my accomplishment, but I'm not happy with the decision."

Finishing with the best bracket does not equal an automatic claim to the prize. ESPN awards the prize through a random draw of the brackets that were among the top 1 percent in the contest about 115,700 this year. Kevin Ota, a spokesman for ESPN Digital Media, said the network is putting together some kind of prize for Holtz.

"We plan to have fun with this," Ota said. "The great thing is that this kid beat all these experts out there."

The tournament includes 67 games and Holtz missed only six. He was perfect picking games played in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four. Out of 11.5 million who entered a bracket on ESPN's website, Sam finished tied for first with 1,830 points after Duke beat Wisconsin 68-63 in the championship game. He entered 10 brackets in the contest.

"There is no secret," said Holtz. He attends Lake Zurich Middle School North. "There was some luck and I studied ESPN.com. I just picked the teams that I felt had the best players."

Critical thinking challenge: What was Sam Holtz's successful strategy?

Assigned 13 times


COMMENTS (2)
  • BraedenH-Ste
    4/23/2015 - 12:04 p.m.

    My reaction to this is that this is crazy. First, how does a 12 year old boy do so good at guessing at a bracket. I created a March Madness bracket myself and i didn't even come close to doing as good as this kid did. The kid said he just picked the teams he thought had the best players, wow great strategy. The best thing about this story is that this kid had better brackets then some of the basketball genius's out there. But sadly the kid couldn't claim the big prize because he wasn't 18 or older, but ESPN said that the kid will get a prize as soon as they came up with one.

    • JoeP1-Ste
      5/06/2015 - 01:07 p.m.

      yeah i hope they come up with a prize for Sam because that kid deserves his prize that's crazy how things work some time and this one time it worked for Sam

  • JoeP1-Ste
    5/06/2015 - 01:04 p.m.

    Sam holtz's successful strategy was that he picked the teams that he thought had the best players and in the end it paid of for 6th grader Sam holtz

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